WASHINGTON (January 4, 2007)---As the political debate over immigration reform and border security heightens around the country, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will highlight the need for solidarity with migrants, immigrants, refugees, human trafficking victims and other displaced individuals during National Migration Week, Jan. 7-13.
The theme for this year's migration week is Welcoming Christ in the Migrant, which marks the 26th year of the annual observance.
"Our nation's legitimate security concerns have been distorted by some who would foment anxiety, fear, and a distrust of migrants," said Bishop Gerald R. Barnes, chairman of the USCCB Migration Committee. "The present immigration reform debate has lost much of its reason and is often being fueled by raw emotions. The Scriptures and Catholic Social Teaching call upon all of us to examine the issues and respond to the strangers among us as we would to Jesus Himself. The Holy Family found safety and new lives in Egypt during their time of great need. Many migrants today follow similar paths as they embark on their journey of hope."
A wide variety of resources for parishes, schools, and service providers are available on the USCCB/MRS National Migration Week web site at www.usccb.org/mrs/nmw.shtml. Bishop Barnes also encouraged citizens to participate in the bishops' immigration reform initiative, Justice for Immigrants: A Journey of Hope. Information about this campaign can be found at www.justiceforimmigrants.org.
Five principles for migration from Catholic Social Teaching are foundational to the message of National Migration Week: 1) Persons have the right to find opportunities in their homeland. 2) Persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families. 3) Sovereign nations have the right to control their borders. 4) Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection. 5) The human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected.
"When we reach out to aid and comfort the newcomers to our land we are indeed offering ourselves and our gifts in service to the Lord," Bishop Barnes added. "This is not only our Christian duty but a privilege, knowing that we too have been adopted into God's family."